“This is Alan Freed . . . and this is rock’n’roll.”
With these words, the young hearts of New York beat fast as the celebrated radio disc jockey unleashes the popular sounds of the late 1950s.
This biographical drama tells the story of Freed – the man credited with introducing white American teenagers to the sounds that their parents considered the Devil’s music.
With Tim McIntire highly believable as “the Pied Piper of Rock’n’Roll”, this pleasing pop picture makes a fair fist of re-creating the era when clean-cut kids became rebels whose only cause was twisting the night away.
The film is built around Freed’s final live show at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater in 1959 – though the Los Angeles locations look no more like Brooklyn in the film than they do in reality.
There is continual effective comic interplay between Freed’s secretary Sheryl (future Nanny star Fran Drescher) and his chauffeur Mookie (future tonight show legend Jay Leno) who fight like cat and dog, or more accurately, like brother and sister.
You can forgive director Floyd Mutrux for calling on the services of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, but, while their music might be timeless, they are not, and their obvious age and over-polished performances detract from the aura of authenticity.
There is some authentic music in the style of the period from a new group called The Chesterfields, created for the film to portray a typical Freed “discovery”. The four young men – Carl Earl Weaver, Al Chalk, Sam Harkness and Arnold McCuller – come across very nicely, along with Laraine Newman as Teenage Louise, who writes songs for them.
District Attorney Coleman
Jack Edward Ellis